Prior to the emergence of the full-blown war, there was an increased race by major countries to acquire military hardware, a situation Hewitson (76) refers to as the arms race. The leaders of this arms race especially in Navy hardware were Britain and Germany, countries that later become major stakeholders of the World War I. A closely related factor to the arms race was the rise in militarism. The military's role in civilian governments increased tremendously, a situation that worsened International cooperation as each military leader was concerned with military might rather than International cooperation. While Britain sought to honor a 1989 resolution to double its military might, Germany's military became so strong that it was nicknamed "a state within a state".
According to Afflerbach and Stevenson, (175), nationalism played a pivotal role towards the start and the continuation of World War I. The two notes that the rise of the notions of nationalism especially in Germany led various authors to write literature articles that had heavy intonations of a sort of independence. German writers were notorious in painting war as the best way to show the country that was superior. For instance, the two gives the example of the Slavic people who wanted to be nationals of Serbia rather than being Austria Hungary nationals. Such notions exacerbated the likelihood of war.
Prior to the war, most of the European countries had entered into some sought of bilateral arrangements for defense purposes. This defense alliance system helped pull most European countries into war as they were mutually obligated to defend an ally being attacked by a perceived enemy. The most basic cause of a war outbreak in the associated with the alliance system was the alliance between Serbia and Russia on one front and Germany and Austria-Hungary on the other (Allan 113). The aforementioned nations prompted their allies to enter into war after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria Hungary.
On 28th June, 1914, Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian national (Allan 148). This was seen as a direct attack on the integrity of Austria-Hungary by Serbia. Austria-Hungary's ally, Germany, pressurized her to fight Serbia and pegged that it will offer its support. This prompted Austria-Hungary to issue an ultimatum to Serbia with failure to accept the conditions would result into war. Serbia rejected this ultimatum. Following this development, Serbia's strongest ally, Russia ordered a mobilization against Austria-Hungary. Germany ordered Russia to demobilize or face them in a war. This event prompted France, an ally of Russia to mobilize against Germany (Hewitson 136). Germany declared war on Russia and that pulled France into war. To attack France, Germany had to invade Belgium thus pulling them into war. At this juncture the war was irreversible.
For the next four years, World War I was fought with two major war fronts revolving around Germany and its allies on one side and the popularly known allies of England on the other side. Although America never entered into war until 1917, it was supplying the allies with the much needed arms and greatly aided them to win the war. The biggest losers were Germany and its allies such as Austria-Hungary as they lost the war to the allies. Worse still, Germany was humbled when all its ports were blocked by the British naval and the civilians, having starved due to lack of accessibility demonstrated in Berlin against the war due to its effect to the civilians. In October of 1918, Erich Ludendorff, Germany's commander resigned which was the last sign that Germany had lost the war to the allies that by then were being aided by the troops of the United States of America.
In conclusion, it is evident that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand together with his wife acted as the triggering factor for the war. However, the existence of the alliance system of defense acted as the real cause of the World War I. The mutual alliance system also motivated countries to invest in other areas such as militarism and arms race that acted as major causes of the world war. It is also clear that Germany which had started the offensive lost the war to the allies.
Afflerbach, Holger and Stevenson, David. An improbable war? The outbreak of World War I and European political culture before 1914. New York: Berghahn Books, 2007. Print.
Allan, Tony. The Causes of World War I. Kansas: Paw Prints, 2008. Print.